You've Changed

I have a few ideas for posts regarding the nuts and bolts of dealing with illness as a parent (and umm, human) that I want to post here. Even if you are not ill, you will have days and weeks of it, a period of postpartum convalescence,  or have friends facing longer term struggles- even ones we sometimes forget to give credit for like thyroid malfunction, depression/anxiety, IBS, etc. For your consideration, I present my first installation of Coping Chronicles ;)

First Up: You've Changed

Before I was sick, I was the kind of girl who could and would push through anything, the one making all the plans, the one with energy and ideas to spare. Not so much now. Changes like these greatly diminish one's capacity for coming up with grand, creative, new ways to run a household- adding to frustration with self and scene. Illness (along with babies, moves, death, accidents) is a huge disruptor. I think most of us crave comfort and order in the face of disruption, but when you are at the center of it, it can be nearly impossible to recreate the conditions of comfort and order you enjoyed before.

I feel it is important to note the above facts before launching in to "Easy Tips to Make It Seem Like Nothing Has Happened" or "How to Feed Your Family While Never Cooking." While it is very tempting to find a "new normal" as quickly as possible, I don't think that works. Friends and family will be ready to gush about all their great ideas for how you ought to now live, but they may be forgetting the important fact that you have, indeed, changed- no small thing to face. It's OK to need some time to just sit and stare at the new surroundings (and your new personal interior) before you begin to plan how you can get up and move along (not on). I read a great little book called Cereal for Dinner that I found extremely helpful, but more than the tips and tricks, it was the empathy and grace that I most craved and enjoyed in its pages. The first thing I want to convey as I seek to share some of our family's discoveries is that same empathy and grace. I wish I could say that stages of grief and the reintroduction of order happen on some kind of predictable schedule, but they don't. I can say that giving myself time for both, stumbling my way ahead, has been a necessity, and that the time required has been much longer than I expected.

I see a counselor weekly; doing so has been the best way for me to process the ways I and my circumstances have (and have not) changed. I can remember in the far off, misty past when I considered going to regular counseling appointments to be a sign of weakness and inadequacy (ugly opinion, but one I held nonetheless). Not so any longer. Although, at this time I do feel weak and inadequate, I also feel strong for being willing and able to admit that I need someone's help. Processing loss just feels weird because we were made for glory and order- painful illness and loss are contrary to our design. However, I of course believe that pain and change can be used to make us richer and more glorious. Working with a counselor has done much to improve my view of myself- NOT because she forces me to look for the bright side but because she has helped me to give myself credit for what I'm going through.

So, my first tips are these:

  • Take the time you need to inventory what has been lost and what remains and the requisite time for mourning. Some of you may not be praying types. Even so, everyone should know that God has capacity to listen to our crying and even our angry shouts.
  • Consider finding a counselor. Churches love to help pay for counseling fees, and many therapists have sliding payment scales for those with financial limitations. It may also help to simply identify one good friend who you believe has the capacity to give you time to process and listen well. Make sure this friend knows that you aren't coming to them for solutions, per se, but for empathy. Most close friends are able to identify patterns in our thinking, and those may be helpful for them to point out to you.

Coping Chronicles: Self-Care

POTS Still Sucks